Chinese and foreign scholars shared their insights on China’s development and opportunities for the world at a symposium which closed on Monday, as the country is about to celebrate its 70th founding anniversary.
China’s Engel’s coefficient plunged to 28 percent in 2018 from more than 60 percent in 1949, according to Zhang Yi, Director General of National Institute of Social Development of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
According to the measure set by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, an Engel’s coefficient between 20 percent and 30 percent indicates a “wealthy” living standard.
Gao Xiang, vice president of the CASS, said the Chinese government has not only lifted 740 million people out of poverty since China adopted an opening-up policy about 40 years ago but that the country has also contributed around 30 percent of the growth of the world economy in recent years.
“Tremendous change can be found everywhere, in both urban and rural areas,” Sirirurg Songsivilai, secretary-general of the National Research Council of Thailand, shared his experience of visiting China in the 1990s and early 2000s when he witnessed the preliminary progress the opening-up policy had brought to China.
“This development did not happen by accident. It arose from good leadership. It came from the hard work and willingness of the Chinese people and the Chinese leaders to learn,” Sirirurg Songsivilai noted.
One difference of China’s approach on fostering the development behind its success is that people working in public sectors are held accountable for their jobs by the government, said Martin Whyte, former director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University.
Experts also maintained that China’s development, apart from bringing phenomenal changes to the country, also has valuable experiences that other countries can learn from.
China’s market economy and infrastructure-based strategy to spur economic growth have provided a model for the African continent, said Kenneth Quinn, former U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia when he commented on the impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
In Kenya, the completion of the 470 km Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway has boosted the country’s GDP by 1.5 percent, created 46,000 jobs for the locals and trained 1,600 railway professionals, said Peter Kagwanja, president and chief executive of Kenya’s Africa Policy Institute, adding that BRI transport projects are substantially improving trade, industrialisation and living conditions for citizens in participating countries.
When doors and windows are open, ideas, philosophies, data, information, capital and technology will be in a bidirectional flow, said Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of the Forum for a New South Asia.
The symposium was an annual event organised by the Bureau of International Cooperation and the National Institute of Social Development of CASS. Within two days, participants had in-depth discussions on social development and policies, economic growth and innovation, and BRI and international cooperation.